Skip to comments.The Marks of Childhood or the Marks of Abuse?
Posted on 05/14/2009 9:48:05 AM PDT by nickcarraway
I had just started out in practice when one day I examined a little boy, maybe 4 years old, and discovered around his neck the clear mark of a noose. I asked him what had happened; he said he didnt know. I asked his mother; she said she didnt know, but it was the fault of her ex-husband. I had to tell her I was filing a report with the Department of Social Services the child had clearly suffered an inflicted injury.
My training had included many slide shows about the stigmata of cigarette burns, belt marks and other suspicious injuries, but it was the first time I had been the person alone on the front line, looking at a mark on a child, knowing something was wrong.
My colleague Dr. Lori Legano is a pediatrician who specializes in child abuse at the Frances L. Loeb Child Protection and Development Center at Bellevue Hospital. Part of her job is to testify in court and to speak to judges and juries about a range of marks and bruises and what they indicate.
She has to integrate a pediatricians understanding of child development and behavior with a growing body of forensic information about child abuse. Bumps and bruises, after all, can be expected in any young child who is learning to walk. But some injuries are inconsistent with developmental stage: If you dont cruise, you dont bruise.
So a child who isnt mobile shouldnt have those marks, let alone broken bones. And then there are intrinsically suspicious marks, or marks in the wrong places.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
My poor middle daughter was nicknamed Rocky from all the black eyes she got. Her brow bone inevitably hit any hard surface while learning to walk and that child got a black eye everytime. To top it off, while changing her diaper once, she rolled off the bed when I turned to grab my toddler who was climbing on the bed and broke a collar bone. Luckily I had three witnesses in the room and darn if they tried (unsuccessfully) to catch her.
It made me worry people would think I abused my child. She suffered two more broken bones, both occurred at afterschool daycare from my daredevil, a clumsy daredevil though.
That happened to my cousin. He was mortified.
It’s a horrible feeling!! Especially since I was grabbing the one child to prevent a fall and she just went roll roll roll in the other direction. Man, I still feel like crap and it’s been 10 years.
My daughter has a Mogolian Spot on her left butt check. It looks just like a purple bruise. Many asian and african children have them and they fade with age, but we made sure we had good documentation with the Pediatrician.
Nosy doctors creep me out.
My kids are covered with bruises, scratches, abrasions, sunburn, sometimes even black eyes.
If you compare them with a kid that sits on the couch all day playing video games, they might look a little beaten.
A friend of mine was at the pediatrician’s office when the doctor notices several bruises on her son. She tried to explain to the doctor that her son was rather exhuberant and always running and jumping all over the place. Her doctor was ready to call Child Services when her son took a flying leap off the examination table. The pediatrician finally believed her. Sometimes that’s not the case and some parents to abuse their children.
On the other hand, there are too many, way too many, “health professionals” that have read a book or an article, and consider themselves experts on the subject. These people can do serious harm.
About 5-6 years ago, I was having Christmas dinner at my house. I was carving up the rib roast, and my wife, who was doing something with the pots behind my back, bumped into me. Unfortunately, this knocked the roast off onto the floor.
Both my wife and I dived to catch it, me with the very sharp carving knife in my hand. It inflicted a serious injury to her ring finger.
We rushed her to the emergency room, but you would not believe the pressure the admitting nurse put on her to say it was something other than an accident. I could not believe the glares I got for her and a couple more nurses.
If she had been a child, I would have probably wound up in jail for the night. That is, until they checked out with the other 5 adult witness what had happened.
A little education is a dangerous thing, and incompetents rule most professions, IMO.
Then when I was 3, I fell down the front steps and broke my radius and ulna. The doctor did not set me arm so when the cast came off my arm was crooked and not healed properly.
SO, you guess it, I banged my arm and it re-broke. I remember being 3 and a half and having people questioning me in the emergency room about if my parents hurt me.
If a professional fails to report potential abuse, it’s on them, and it’s a CRIME. Thanks your legislators.
When I was a kid and misbehaved badly enough, Dad would take off his belt and smack me on my (covered) behind a few times, just enough to make it hurt and let me know that what I did should not be attempted again.
When I wouldn’t listen to reason, my Mom would go outside and get a ‘switch’ in which she would swat me with.
I suppose in this day and age Mom and Dad would have been sentenced to 20 years hard labor in prison for ‘mutilating’ me so badly.
When my 32 year old nephew was a child, he had asthma and was allergic to mosquito bites (my girls are too. they swell to the size of half dollars and have a white head on them)
We went to the drive in, the kid was playing on the swings for about an hour at dusk. He started having trouble breathing during the movie and we ran him into the emergency room.
The doctor looked at his mosquito bites and said, “These are cigarette burns”
Luckily, my sister was a nurse and said, “There are entry points on each of them if you look closely.” and there were.
I can’t imagine what would have happened if they had just called CPS!
The days are long gone when a family doctor was intimately knowledgeable of the families he or she was treating for years and years. So often, those doctors knew the daily habits and lifestyles of their patients and when a kid came in with out-of-the-ordinary injuries, it was fairly obvious someone had knocked the kid around. Now everyone must be assumed guilty of abusing their child until they prove otherwise so they can help those who are. Nevermind of course the invasion of privacy, false accusations, and social stigma that follows even a single false accusation.
>>If you compare them with a kid that sits on the couch all day playing video games, they might look a little beaten.<<
Then you abuse them if they are overweight.
We’ve stopped with Peds. At 9 and 11, they see regular doctors who aren’t as nosey.
I was at the doctor's for some routine reason a few years ago, when he asked me if my husband ever hit me. I laughed because it was completely out of the blue and had nothing to do with why I was there. There was also no evidence of abuse. He seemed very angry with me for my response, which seemed somewhat ironic to me.
“...Mom would go outside and get a switch ...”
She didn’t make you pick out the switch yourself? She was easy on you :)
I have a nephew who is very exuberant, strong and strong willed. When he chooses to go off somewhere it is hard to restrain him.
When he was only about 2 he would run full blast, and since he wasn’t yet very coordinated, he would run into things. Bruises all over. One time he was trying to get away from his mom who was holding his arm, and he dislocated his shoulder.
Fortunately, their doctor knows them well and knows how this child is, or they would be with cps constantly.
When he was little, my son was terribly allergic to mosquito bites. He would break out in hives, and his skin would really swell at the site of the bite. One time he was bit inside his ear canal. His ear swelled and he broke out in hives. We took him to an urgent care center because we feared the excessive swelling in the ear might cause more permanent damage.
Our family doctor later called me to tell me to never go to that place again. Unknown to me, the urgent care doctor reported us, assuming my husband boxed his ears. She stopped the investigation in it’s tracks by explaining my son’s history of hives and excessive swelling at the site of bug bites. The fact that my son had systemic hives helped. Also, within 24 hours, his ear was completely normal looking again, so the Urgent Care doctor looked pretty dumb.
My daughter loves to crouch with her feet on her bike seat as she coasts down a hill in our neighborhood. The first time she did that at 5 years old, I turned to my husband and said, “I guess we can take the training wheels off.”
Abuse allegations can be worrisome with this kind of child. I nannied for a family and the girl broke her arm and five meta-tarsels (foot bones) on two separate occassions. Luckily her brother witnessed the arm incident (she fell on ice) and the reaction from the parents on the foot was shock it took so long to break something. She had been on a furniture jumping spree for months.